THE MUSIC SHOP
RACHEL JOYCE (DOUBLEDAY, $37)
Gentle, shambling musicstore owner Frank is something of a savant when it comes to selecting life-changing music for his customers. But he will only stock records and this is 1988 Britain, when compact discs are usurping vinyl and developers are carving up small shopping centres. Frank is determinedly fending off both threats, fighting for the status quo alongside a cast of colourful neighbours, when charming Ilse Brauchmann makes her dramatic entrance and change becomes inevitable. Central as the tentative romance is to this bighearted tale, Joyce writes about other relationships – current friendships, tragic bonds, community ties – with equal wit and warmth. She has an ear for both music and dialogue.